The City of Atlanta will double its population during the next 20 years rendering our already insufficient transportation system useless. Our elected officials and their constituents recognize we have limited space to move and we need to dedicate more of our space to dense modes of travel. Unfortunately, the path we are currently on to reallocate this space is taking too long and producing too little. This lack of leadership and execution has broken Atlantan’s trust in the city.
How does Atlanta keep us moving?
All future transportation funding should be limited to only transportation projects and 5-year increments. All of the listed projects should be guaranteed to be completed within the 5 year period if the funding passes. Each project’s required funding should be listed prior to the vote and factor in a 20% increase in construction costs over the 5-year period.
Our entire transportation system should prioritize protection by speed and mass. With the highest protections given to the lowest speeds. Pedestrian over bicycle, bicycle over bus, bus over personal car, and personal car over truck.
Reduced Speed Limit
Reducing speeds will save most but not all lives. As long as bikes and scooters are forced to share the same space as cars, all vehicle speeds should be reduced to 25 miles per hour.
Unfortunately, a reduction in speed limit is very difficult to uniformly enforce. Traffic calming measures should be put in place physically reducing lane widths using curbs. Along with law enforcement, these curbs will enforce distracted driving and speeding penalties with flat tires. This should be completed before 2025.
Atlantans need a comprehensive bicycle network across the entire city with physical separation from car traffic and dedicated crossing lights. A physical separation is a continuous impenetrable defense between a 2-ton object and a child. This is not a painted line or a plastic cone.
The city should increase access to personally owned electric bikes/scooters and lessons for low income residents.
We have been walled off for too long. Pedestrian and bicycle cut throughs should be required every three blocks across the city. This includes cutting through, over, or under structures like highways, railroads, conference buildings and more. This should be completed before 2025.
The Atlanta BeltLine should be separated from the More MARTA project list due to it not likely to being completed. A new funding mechanism should be created for the rail and sidewalk to be completed before 2030.
MARTA bus routes need to change from a meandering system with a center in downtown to a rectangular grid system in dedicated lanes removing them from traffic. This means buses should travel either north and south or east and west. Additionally, buses should also continue their routes without diversions to heavy rail stations for inline transfers. This should be completed before 2021.
With this new transportation system zoning should make sure that all Atlanta residents have access to a livable community with in 20 minutes of their homes without a car. Livable communities include jobs, education, healthcare, parks, recreation, groceries, arts, restaurants, child care, and stores. To aid the progress of dense livable communities Atlanta’s zoning departments should remove all car parking minimums and remove all single-family-only zoning. All apartment complexes and offices should be required to create a separate charge for each car parking space at a minimum of $10/month.
How to pay for it
Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST II
An additional round of funding but sticking to the requirements listed above.
A daily congestion charge for all cars that operate within the city limits with no exemptions. Enforced by license plate readers strategically placed around the city. Pricing could start at $5/day or annual passes for $110/year.
There are nine parking spaces for every car in Atlanta. The city should create a tax for all parking spaces in the city ranging from a high of 40% of gross revenue to a low of 3% — with most in the 18-20% range. All city parking should be paid including neighborhood on-street parking through an app like ParkMobile and parking permits. Furthermore, the water runoff caused by each parking space and the surface around it should be billed and put towards our water bills. Parking for all scooters and bikes should be moved off sidewalks and controlled within specific paid spaces.
After speaking with multiple mobility planners, innovators, engineers, and scientists over the past 2 years, they have all mentioned the same things. We know that we have overbuilt for personal cars and the trend towards more dense cities is not slowing down. Personal cars are simply too big for everyone to move around in densely populated areas. New forms of mobility will emerge and eat away at the dominance of personal cars.
Citizens need to allow that cities to experiment and make mistakes. Cities like Atlanta are caught between not moving fast enough to keep up with rapidly changing mobility while being expected to fully study all options and the consequences of each action. Over the next twenty years, cities should not over commit to any one mode of transportation by providing protected infrastructure for these new and old forms of mobility to thrive.